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Ex Com E-Vote, May 22, 2020, Approval To Sign National Letter for More Funding Support for Higher Education


Ex Com was asked on 5/20/20 to sign the following (description below). Approval is given (12 in favor, 0 opposed).

We are being asked to sign onto this letter (see below).  Let us know if you approve..  Looks like it is coming from Georgetown University but applies to all.    It was developed by a group of higher education unions across the country who have been meeting through the Bargaining for a Common Good project.   PSU will be signing on and believes it will help put pressure on getting more money from the federal government

Here’s How We Not Just Reopen, But Transform Universities

A letter from the workers, students and faculty who know firsthand what Higher Ed needs

COVID 19 is a wake-up call for higher education in the U.S. Will higher ed actually deliver the promises of an equitable America, or further drive its inequality?

University Presidents are c alling for “safely reopening campuses” to save higher education. These calls ring hollow when students, graduate student workers, faculty, staff and outsourced workers can’t get PPE and are struggling to feed their families now, when campuses are closed.

Protecting higher education as a keystone of our post-COVID 19 economy requires common sense, out-of-the-box thinking. It starts with placing workers, students, faculty and equity at the center of all decision-making - not on the chopping block.

For too long, we’ve been forced to make impossible choices between raising tuition or cutting back essential staff and services, while donors get tax breaks, endowments grow and management bloats. We’ve watched as the amenities race for football and campus Jamba Juices have left poor, black and brown workers, especially student workers, further behind.

University administrators must take care of the basic needs of all the humans their institutions support, not the construction loans or donors they “owe.” Even then, only a free, state-supported higher education system, fully funded by the wealthiest in this country, can lift up the next generation - it’s what we all need and deserve. We can absolutely make it happen.

To get there, we need the following short and long term solutions:

  1. The Federal Government must include billions dedicated to higher education as part of the next round of COVID response legislation and higher ed should be part of the short term borrowing options being considered for states and municipalities. Just as federal stimulus attached strings to the airlines' bailout, any federal funds dedicated to higher education must require that universities use public resources to guarantee current staffing, support for all students, full annual funding for graduate students and shifting contingent positions into full-time ones. University leaders should use all their resources to make sure this happens.
  2. Preserve higher education as a provider of good, family-supporting jobs by providing PPE and keeping everyone on the payroll NOW. You can’t provide a safe and secure campus to re-open when staff and faculty don’t have the tools or job security right now to make that happen. Everyone who is or will be on a University campus needs full PPE and the resources to keep their families’ health protected. Employees of higher education institutions are the backbone of the student experience, from janitors to adjuncts and tenured faculty - each and every one of them are critical, and layoffs only prolong this crisis’s terror and the economic recovery for all of us. Campuses should only

reopen when there’s a commitment to maintain the staffing and resources (PPE, etc.) needed to keep workers and students safe.

  1. Give poor, working students and students of color the support, resources and funds they need to safely stay in school: When campuses reopen, ALL students should be safe and have access to the same quality of education, including poor, working, black and brown students. We know poor students and those of color disproportionately lack access to the resources needed to attend and stay safe, from the internet to housing to funds for basic needs. Our higher ed system already inadequately compensates for these inequities through scholarships, work study and similar programs. We need to develop a robust plan now that centers these students and removes barriers to them accessing all the resources they need to be both safe and successful on our campuses.
  2. DO #2 and #3 By Using Rainy Day Funds: University Executives should use all rainy day funds, reserves, investments, endowments and other resources at their disposal to center the care of workers and students first, including continuation or extension of pay for undergraduate and graduate workers, and ensure we keep colleges and universities whole. Why do we have “rainy day funds” if not for use during a once-in-a-generation global disaster? Hundreds of thousands of people are dying - we can and we must change our system to prioritize spending money to save our lives and jobs - the lives and jobs of students, workers and community members who depend on higher education. This is why we saved billions in rainy day funds! All regents, board members and trustees should move immediately to use any and all funds needed.
  3. Tax the Wealthy and Make College Free: Our society can afford to create a free higher education system that drives economic growth and creates opportunity and upward mobility for everyone. NOW is the time to realize that dream, not entrench wealth by shrinking our higher education system. We do this by ensuring the ultra rich pay their fair share and taxing the wealthy. They’ve benefited from decades of tax breaks, including through donating to higher education endowments. Every University Administrator, Board Member, Regent, Trustee and others in leadership positions should support wealth taxes and commit to paying their fair share themselves.

To be clear - President Paxson, all University Presidents, Boards of Regents, Trustees, and Higher Education Leaders: Your duty now is to marshal all the resources and expertise at your disposal to make it possible not just to safely reopen campuses, but to save our universities and ensure they continue to serve as a vehicle for good jobs and economic opportunity for ALL OF US. Students, workers and our communities depend on it.